Budget 2020 a setback to our hopes & aspirations – Neha Wadhwa
Our guest columnist this week is Delhi University student Neha Wadhwa. Neha says the allocations made for the disabled community in Budget 2020 is a let down on many counts.
The Budget speech by Finance Minster Nirmala Sitharaman is exactly, what is wrong with our society when it comes to talking about persons with disability in India.
Charity-based approach towards disabled prevails
The disability community had different hopes and aspirations with this Budget. It was looking forward to the allocation of resources on various aspects such as the Accessible India campaign, research funding towards boosting our social understanding and increase innovations with respect to technology and infrastructure, and removal of GST on aids and appliances. The expectations also included increased allocation to strengthen efforts to focus on including disabled people from rural areas.
However, the Budget speech was a major setback to our hopes and aspirations. It shows how the government and society at large is under the sway of the charity model. This signposts an approach to disability characterised by notions of care-taking and protection. This charity- based approach manifested itself in the way the speech started with the positioning and placement of people with disability under the agenda of care rather than development or aspirations.
This also exposes the blatant hypocrisy on the government’s part. On the one hand they label a person with disability as divyang, which means divine. On the other, they govern us under the ethics of “care”. So, going by their logic, divine people are not the ones who need care but are caregivers and caretakers.
The government has forgotten its own policy developments and continues to refer the 1995 Act rather than the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016. It has also failed to allocate funds to the Accessible India campaign, leave alone increase allocation. Clearly inclusion and accessibility is at the bottom of the hierarchy.
Needs of disabled people in rural India ignored
Regarding disabled people in rural areas, there is no mention either. A marginal increase has been made in the budget allocated to the Rehabilitation Council of India, which is responsible for training programmes for experts in the disability field. The RCI has received a slight increase from 5 to 5.5 crore. How far this amount will help achieve our aim for rehabilitation in rural areas is in doubt.
The Budget allocation is both disappointing and disheartening as it is not able to achieve the paradigm shift from a charity-based to a rights-based model. It cannot even be called a half-baked transition in achieving the agenda of inclusion.